Some Thoughts About Reviews

I wanted to spend some time talking about reviews. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to let people know where you’re coming from especially if you’re going to be putting your opinion out there for the masses. Some of these thoughts will be about reviewing in general and others specific to me.

I generally do First Impressions and Reviews when I have money to go out and buy new books. I post all of my book and product reviews are Amazon as well as on this blog. I do this because getting reviews, especially for Indie authors, is a chore. I only have three reviews for my first book and I’ve been trying to get more posted for almost a year. Even if I am given a free copy of a book to review, I will end up buying the book anyway. Why do I do it? There are two major reasons.

First, Amazon reviews are a lot more credible when people see that you are a verified purchaser of the book. If someone spends their hard earned money on a book and takes the time to post a review, I am going to think about what they have to say. I take each review for what it is, someone’s personal opinion that I may or may not agree with. Also, just because someone brought a book it doesn’t mean he or she is giving an honest opinion. You should take each review for what it is, someone’s opinion that you may or may not agree with. As with any opinion, it should be taken with a grain of salt. I do notice that a lot of extremely harsh reviews are usually made by reviewers who are not verified purchasers. The same goes for some reviews where there is nothing but praise for an author who they herald as the next Stephen King or Tom Clancy. Even in the cases where the reviewer has read the book but not purchased it, they might have read a different version than the one posted on Amazon.

Second, There are a lot of different ways an author can send a copy of their book to someone. A PDF or HTML file might look different from the version posted on Amazon for the Kindle. The Smashwords version of the book might have more or less content. In the end, I am reviewing the Kindle version of the book so it’s important to read that version of the book. There might be issues/features present in the Kindle version that are missing from another version.

As you probably figured out by now, honesty and credibility are important to me. It’s also important to give the reasons for your opinion. Anyone can say they liked or didn’t like a book. It’s a lot harder to state why and do it in a professional manner. This is especially true when you’re writing a negative review. Something a reviewer found as a turn off might appeal to me. There might be things the reviewer liked about a book that I dislike. In the case of reviewers who run blogs or have magazine columns, you get a feel for what material they like and don’t like. It establishes a pattern that helps you get the most use out of their reviews. Those who post nothing but negative or  positive reviews also establish a pattern especially if they show favoritism towards a particular group of authors or publishing house.

So far, all of the reviews on this blog have been good ones. The main reason for that is the sample system. If I like the sample, odds are I will like the book. All of the books I have read over the last few weeks have met my expectations. That doesn’t mean I like everything about a book. There might be things in it that I have a problem with. I don’t hesitate to point them out. I also won’t hesitate to post a bad review if a book doesn’t meet my expectations.

First impressions are a different matter. They aren’t the same as a book review. I’m relying on a sample to decide on whether or not I want to read a book. I then post my reasons for the decision as well as whether or not I will do a full review. You will see far more negative first impressions than you will see negative reviews on this blog. I will never tell you not to buy a book. I will just point out why I wouldn’t do so but you should read a sample for yourself. It doesn’t cost you anything except a small amount of your time. I also won’t post my first impressions on Amazon because it wouldn’t be fair or right.

Finally, you won’t find spoilers in my reviews. Personally, I don’t mind the occasional spoiler or two. A lot depends on the type of movie or book so I judge things on a case by case basis. For example, a spoiler for a murder mystery will definitely lessen my enjoyment of the book/movie. I’m not about to do that here even though a lot of reviewers will give away the entire plot or spoil a surprise ending.

Well, that’s all I got for the time being. You’ll see more first impressions and reviews soon.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Some Thoughts About Reviews

  1. Hi Richard,

    I wholeheartedly agree with your reasoning behind reviews. When I accept a book for review I make sure the author knows that I am not a professional book reviewer, but I will give a fair and objective review based on my opinion as a reader and an author. Many times I sleep on a review to make sure that my initial thoughts are what I want to put out there. I try to highlight aspects of the book that I enjoyed, but I don’t shy away from pointing out flaws in the story if I find those too. Like you, I download a sample to make sure the book is something that I want to read. So far, I’ve enjoyed most of the books I’ve reviewed.

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